January 23, 2006

No BC updates until March? The earliest?

I’ve been hearing a lot of talk lately that Microsoft is not going to have any backward compatibility updates until March - if even then.

Now, normally I would not care. I bought my 360 to play 360 games, not X-Box games, and I was one of the people that didn’t really care if the 360 had BC at all.

But, recently powerpuff bought Chaos Theory because we wanted to do some co-op play. Anybody that has tried to play Chaos Theory on 360 knows that the emulator gets all screwed up when you download the mandatory update on Live with he new maps, soooo, we’re sort of stuck here with a screwed up emulator, no updates for a least two months, and no co-op Chaos Theory play.

Boo, Microsoft, boo.

Also, does anyone know if new X-Box titles will have the bc emulator built in? I wanna check out Black when it gets released next month, but now I don’t even know if I’ll be able to play it on my 360. Maybe I shouldn’t have packed away my regular X-Box just yet . . .

UPDATE: According to IGN this rumor is false and we should expect new BC updates before March. I hope they plan on fixing current BC problems as well *cough* Chaos Theory *cough*

DVD enough for Next Gen games?

Here is a great article which looks into whether Microsoft dropped the ball by sticking with the standard DVD format instead of opting for something with more storage space like HD-DVD or Sony’s Bluray discs.

Surely next-gen games will require much more storage space which standard DVDs won’t be able to provide right? Or will they? Very good read.


January 22, 2006

My mistake

A while ago I created a gamertag on xbox.com to make sure that I would be able to use my "tanis38" user name (since I didn't have LIVE). I already had my gamercard on my 360 HDD with the same name, but didn't think much of it. When I finally signed up for LIVE, I went to import my tanis38 gamertag which I had created on the xbox website. Obviously it told me that I already had a gamerprofile with that name, if I wanted to replace it. I hit "yes" of course and everything was looking fine. I was finally on LIVE, I had my gamer tag and everything was looking up.

It wasn't until later that I realized the huge mistake I had made. Apparetly the way that the 360 saves games is that it saves them onto your gamercard profile on the HDD, not onto the HDD itself. So when I replaced my gamercard when I imported it from xbox.com, I essentially erased everything I had done since getting my 360. All my accomplishments, my advancments in all my games. Everything. Needless to say, I was very upset.

I had already beaten CoD2 on hardened, I was towards the end of my Madden franchise's 1st year and I was more than half-way through PDZ. I've had to start over from scratch. Not fun.

But oh well, at least this happened now and not a month or two from now. Then I REALLY would have been pissed off.


So, now that I have DSL, I've been able to mess around with LIVE and take full advantage of the 360's interface.

First, the fact that the 360 is always on-line and you can see what your friends are doing is fantastic. The chat feature is genious. I've been able to chat with Powerpuff while I'm either playing a game, or messing around in the marketplace, or downloading a demo. All for free (we live on opposite ends of the country)

The ability to download game demos is great and more develppers should take advantage of this feature to promote their games. These demos are kinda big through (file size-wise) and can take a while to download. But it's understandable why the files are so large.

So far I have downloaded a bunch of them and will be giving some impressions at a later time.

But I can't believe how much of a difference having LIVE makes to the whole 360 experience. I'm loving it!!!

January 13, 2006

HD gaming is sweet!

Wow, it only took two weeks of 360 gaming to make any game not running in 720p or higher look like absolute crap.

I received the new OXM yesterday and on the disc is a playable demo of Half-Life 2. I hadn’t played my regular X-Box since getting the 360 and I popped in the disc to try it out.

Holy crap!

I could tell just by the logos and menus that I was no longer playing in HD. Wow, 480p now looks blurry, crappy and extremely unimpressive. My eyes can never go back!

It’s kinda like watching a really bad VHS tape after years of watching DVDs. You never realized at the time, but man, that stuff looks just plain bad.

Now I’m worried. I’m pretty much done with “last-gen” games now that I have a 360 (damn, I sound so superficial saying that), however, I would still want to check out Black and of course, Zelda. Does this mean that the entire time I am playing Zelda I’m going to complaining by how blurry and low-res everything looks? Have I now cursed myself and now see any game running lower than 720p as completely unimpressive an archaic?


Edit: Now that I FINALLY got DSL, I was able to get the latest update for the Halo 2 emulator and you know what? It doesn't look half bad. Very smooth and completely jaggy free!!! Sweet!

DSL . . . or lack thereof (cont.)

Ok, so the Bellsouth tech comes at around 8pm, and says he needs to access the main phone room for the apartment building. The what now? First of all, I have no idea where that is. Second, chances are that room is locked and I have no idea who I need to contact to get it open. Third, I’m in the middle of cooking dinner sir, couldn’t you have come earlier?

So I take the guy for a stroll around my apartment building, pointing out rooms I feel “might” be the telephone room. Of course, they are all locked. He asks if I can call somebody to open them and of course, I have no idea who to call. He tells me that I need to reschedule - YET AGAIN - because there is nothing he could do.

Look, it was late, I know this guy just wanted to get the hell out of here and not do any work. I was talking to a buddy of mine afterward (who works for Bellsouth no less) and he told me that the guy really needed to check the DSL box that is down the block to make sure it was connected and that he couldn’t imagine why he needed to go inside the phone room, because there is nothing wrong with my phone.

Why must I suffer so? Why can’t I pay for DSL and have it working on the first day like normal people? Why must I go through weeks or torture for something as simple as an internet connection at my house?

So, they are coming back this Saturday and I already have the number of the maintenance guy I need to call to open that phone room. If I don’t have DSL by Saturday night, I’m going to freak . . .

To make matters worse, I got the new OXM and it comes with a free Beta version of Final Fantasy XI. Great. I could be playing this baby on-line right now, but nooooo . . . . .

January 11, 2006

DSL . . . or lack thereof

Well, as you know, nothing that I want ever happens the way it is supposed to. My month long 360 ordeal, capped off by a two-week fight with FedEx. My on-going 6 month feud with Comcast to get HD cable in the apartment. And now, my saga of getting something as simple as DSL at the house. My modem came through UPS on Tuesday. Sweet. Opened it up, followed the instructions. Bam, the DSL light on the modem of course doesn't stop blinking, meaning, it is not working. I contact BellSouth tech support, who are very nice and helpful - even though for some reason the girl kept insisting on calling me "ma'am" and I was too frustrated at that point to even correct her - and I was on the phone with them for about 1 hour, giving them information, being put on hold, confirming account info, hold, having them run line-tests, hold, disconnecting my sub-woofer and carrying it across the apartment, hold, disconnecting the modem for 30 seconds about 14 times, hold, blah-blah, hold; all to no avail and all the while being called ma'am after every sentence. So, a technician is scheduled to come to the apartment on Thursday between 5pm and 9pm.

360 impressions (well, not really "impressions" . . .)

Well, I’ve had the 360 for 12 days now and I have not played Guitar Hero since. That’s both good and bad. Good, because it means I’m enjoying my 360. Bad, because . . . well, I haven’t played Guitar Hero in 12 days!!! That game rocks and I need to find some time to get back to it (I WILL beat it on Expert!!!)

So far, I have no complaints with the 360. I have not experienced any of the issues I have read about on forums. No over-heating (knock on wood), no disc scratching (knock on wood), no freezes . . . no wait, yes, I did experience one freeze!! It was with Madden.

What’s that?!?!?! Madden?!?!? After all the crap I talk about on this blog in regards to EA and Madden I went ahead and purchased Madden 360?!?!?

Yes I did. I am weak. I admit it. I am a weak, pathetic, no-will powered, sad excuse of a gamer. But football is my Achilles heel. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I NEED to play a football video game during the regular football season and ESPN 2K5 just wasn’t doing it for me anymore - as great as that game is. Neither was Madden 2006 for X-Box. Don’t know why, but I tried it for a while and then found myself playing ESPN again. So, after getting my 360 and playing Call of Duty 2 and Perfect Dark Zero for hours, I was worn out on 1st-person shooters and needed a change. The only other launch game that I am interested in is Condemned, but that’s another 1st-person game. So, it was Madden or nothing. And I have to admit, I was extremely curious to play the game.

But anyway, back to my freeze problem. It happened during the 4th game of my franchise (and 10th game of Madden 360). I noticed something was wrong with a few minutes left in he 4th quarter, when after every play the game would not go back to the play calling screen. It would just show fly-bys of the stadiums - which normally, these fly-bys appear in the top right of the screen while you are calling a play. At first I was ecstatic, since I HATE the fact that as soon as a play is over, you go to the play calling screen and can never see these great shots of the stadium full-screen, only in the small pic on the top right. But then I realized that the game didn’t let me go back to the play calling screen at all, I was stuck viewing the stadium until I got called for a delay of game penalty. After that, it would take me back to the play calling screen, I would run the play, and then need to repeat the whole process again (take the delay of game, call the play, repeat). Luckily it was the end of the game and I was winning decisively, so while I was annoyed, I just took in the stadium details and let it be. But then after the game ended and I tried to exit, bam, frozen game and I couldn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t even exit to the dashboard, I had to turn the system off. Not fun, but so far that has been my only problem.

I should be writing up short reviews on Cod2, PDZ and Madden shortly, but I want to beat them all first.

My quick impression is that overall, Call of Duty 2 is the best game of the bunch. Perfect dark is the prettiest, but it does have its flaws, and Madden is . . . well, Madden is the game that I’ve been playing the most from all three. Doesn’t mean it’s my favorite, just that I’m a football junkie.

January 03, 2006

My 360 Story

Well folks, the adventure is over. Last Friday, December 30, 2005, I finally got a 360. It has been a painful month - especially the last two weeks - but sitting (standing actually) in a small space under my t.v., is my 360. And damn, it sure looks good as hell there.

But really, I shouldn’t say the adventure is over, because it is not. It is only just beginning. And that isn’t some cheesy metaphor for the amount of fun I am going to have playing my new toy, no, no at all. I’m referring to the huge battle I am going to have with FedEx regarding the delivery of my system. Or lack thereof. Oh, did I forget to mention, the 360 I got is NOT the one I ordered from Circuit City (which I mentioned here) a few weeks back. No, that one is still “somewhere” in my local FedEx facility. Only problem is, no one knows where. Nice.

So, the story goes like this. The aforementioned 360 arrived in Miami at 5:30am on Saturday, Dec 24th. I was having it delivered to my job since that is where I am during the day. When I check the status of my package on Fedex.com on Christmas Eve, to my surprise, it says that it has arrived and will be delivered that day, 12/24! I jump for joy, since it arrived earlier than I thought it would, but at the same time I am worried because my job is closed for the Christmas weekend and won’t be open until the following Tuesday. If they attempt to deliver it, they won’t be able to. So, I decide to call them up and let them know that I am willing to pick up the package directly from the warehouse. After a month of tracking this thing down I would not have been able to sleep at night knowing that it was already here and I was going to have to wait until the following Tuesday to get it. I speak to FedEx and they patch me through to my local FedEx warehouse. I am now speaking to a young man who says he can try to look for my package so that I can pick it up. He takes down my information . . . and then asks me if I know what is in the package, since it is the Christmas rush and they are swamped with packages and boxes. I freeze. What do I say? I want my 360 now and want to do whatever I can to assist this guy in finding it, but he sounds like a young kid and I really don’t want to go advertizing that in my package is the impossible-to-find-ever-elusive 360. I somehow say, “It’s an X-box”, leaving out the “360" part, but still extremely upset I had to let the cat out of the bag. He says, “Oh, it’s an X-Box . . .” and takes a pause. “Yes, why? Is there a problem”, I ask getting more and more suspicious by the second. “No, it’s just that those come in a regular brown box and it might be difficult to find”. Great I’m thinking. I tell him that I appreciate his help and to please give me a call when he finds it, since it is a Christmas gift. Sure, it isn’t really a Christmas Gift (well, it is . . . for myself!), but I felt by saying that it would show the urgency I had in getting the package and maybe make the bastard sympathetic and sentimental, since it is the season of giving an all that crap.

Well, to make a long story short, since then nobody knows where my package is. I never got a call back from the guy and I’ve called about 12 times and all they do is take down my information and say they will give me a call back.

Nothing. No call backs whatsoever.

This went on for a week. I finally send FedEx an e-mail and I get a confirmation from them saying that they’ve spoken with the terminal and that the package is available for pick-up at the warehouse. “Finally!”, I thought. I decided to take the next day off (last Friday), pick-up my 360 in the morning, and play for four days straight, only stopping for such things like eating, bathing, New Years and the Dolphins game. I wake up giddy with excitement and am at the warehouse at 9am sharp. I speak with one of the managers and let her know that I’m there to pick up my package and she leaves to go find it. My pulse is rising. Almost there. While waiting in the lobby I notice some posters on the walls. They are all about reporting theft. Oh great, this is just what I needed to see, a bunch of posters about anonymous tip-lines employees can call if they know of co-workers that are stealing. I try to calm myself down, after all, I received the e-mail from them saying that is was available to pick up. All I have to do it wait for this woman to come back. She has been gone an awful long time. She finally reappears . . . with nothing in her hands. Great. She asked me if I spoke with anyone from the warehouse regarding me picking the package up today. I said no, but I showed her the e-mail from FedEx stating that it was available for pick-up. She says ok and then leaves again.

What the hell is going on?

She comes back and says that they can’t locate my package at the moment, but that if I would leave her my name and number she would call me before 2pm, regardless if they find it or not. At this point I would just like to say that luckily I am not a violent person by nature, otherwise I would have been on the 10 o’clock news under the headline “Carnage at the FedEx warehouse”. I give her my name and info and leave in a daze. Could this actually be happening? I felt like I was in a Twilight Zone episode or at least on Punk’d. Was powerpuff trying to Punk me all the way from Washington?

As I got back in my car my disillusionment started turning to anger. Of all the things that could go wrong with a package being delivered, it had to be the one that I have been the most anxious to get . . . well, ever!! I start thinking back at my initial call to FedEx and that young kid I spoke to on Christmas Eve. I pictured him hanging up with me, laughing, and rubbing his hands in anticipation. Then I pictured him on Christmas Day, at home, playing MY X-Box 360!!!

As I am driving home, I’m getting angrier by the minute. What a waste of a day off. It is only 9:30am and I have a whole day (hell, a whole four-day weekend) with no 360 to show for it!!! Not even the thought of playing Guitar Hero the whole day can dissuade my anger. ARGH!!!

I am so upset that I can’t even go home yet. I need to blow off some steam. I decide to swing by Best Buy and wander around (one of my favorite pastimes. Sorry powerpuff, I know how much you hate them). As I am driving by the store I notice that it has not opened yet. Holiday hours are over and it is opening at 10am. There is already a line of people outside. Damn, there are a bunch of bored people out there who have nothing better to do than wait outside a store for 20 minutes for it to open. It is only 9:40am so I decide to go to the Target that is right next to Best Buy until it opens. It has a 360 kiosk. After playing the Call of Duty 2 demo for 5 minutes, instead of making me feel better, I felt worse. I decide to leave and go back to Best Buy and wait in line with the other losers. I am about the 20th person in line and a manager comes out and asks out loud, “Ok, so who’s here for the 360?”.

The what?!

The manager begins to walk down the line, handing out tickets to anybody who is there for an X-Box (surprisingly, not everybody was). I raise my hand, still confused and in shock, and he hands me a ticket. When he is done he tells everyone that they need to take ther ticket to the cashier and then they’ll give you your systems. The doors open and we go in. I am still in a state of shock, not knowing what was going on, but holding on to my ticket like my life depended on it (and really, I think my mental health did). I go up to the cashier, hand her my ticket, she motions to another employee standing by a door, and he opens it and goes inside. Inside that room, I see about 30 boxes of 360's stacked up. Holy mother of God!!!

So, to end this dreadfully long and boring story, I got my 360. Not through my initial “hook-up” at Walmart. Not through my other buddy that works at Circuit City. Not through my friend at work that has connections. Not by camping out in front of Best Buy on the 18th. And not by receiving it from FedEx after I purchased one. Nope. I got it once I stopped looking, by just walking right up to a store and buying one.

Funny how life works.

But, my ordeal with FedEx is just beginning. I am going to find out what happened to my 360 and I will raise hell in the process. Because if not for the border-line divine intervention that it was me finding one at Best Buy that day, I could have been left without anything at all and it all would have been because FedEx “lost” my package. And I don’t even want to think in what state I would have been right now if that would have been the case.

Powerpuff, I feel for you my friend, I know we’ve spoken about this already. But for the love of God man, if UPS asks you what is in the box, tell them it’s a large supply of rectal thermometers!!! Please!!!

January 02, 2006


I sit, I wait, checking UPS tracking every 4 hours or so. Its some where between here and Illinois. Its Monday a holiday no onw is working. Another long weekend without playing with a 360. :(